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The (Unlikely) Likely First Blog Post
Welcome to my new Adventures in Missions staff blog. It’s been a hot minute since I’ve written in this kind of capacity. I love it, but I also think it takes me longer than the average person to get my thoughts down on “paper” in this way, especially with a blog like this one. With that said, I’ll dive right in!
I named this “The (Unlikely) Likely First Blog Post” for a reason. And I’ll say this first: Not everyone is called to be a missionary. Or to work in a specific ministry. However, from the police officer who works in the center of NYC to the chiropractor who resides among the cornfields of Iowa, those who are followers of Jesus are called to live on mission for Christ regardless of physical location, job title, etc. Second: Those who are missionaries/those who work in ministry are not automatically more spiritual and/or greater than those who do not. The Kingdom of God needs police officers, for God is a God of love and justice (Psalm 89:14). And the Kingdom of God needs chiropractors, for He also cares about the state of our physical bodies as they are temples unto Him (1 Corinthians 6:19). However, third: In addition to these needs, we also need those who will go into all the world to proclaim the Good News.
In fact, verse after verse in Scripture commands this:
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:14
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20
“And the gospel must first be preached to all nations.” Mark 13:10
“He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” Mark 16:15
I recently read the book The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken in less than two days. In short, Ripken writes from his own experience of travelling all over the world talking to those who daily experience persecution for their belief in God. In it, Ripken writes that the goal of those who persecute is not solely to condemn the saved, but to deny the world access to Jesus. To go straight for the source. If there’s no one to go, no one will hear (Romans 10:14). It’s the antithesis of what’s commanded in Scripture. Considering this, and considering persecution in the church all over the world like Afghanistan right now, some might ask why there is no persecution (or very little comparatively) here in America. Ripken states, “Because why would Satan want to wake us [America] up when he has already shut us up?”
I read his question probably eight times because it stung. And quite honestly, it still stings. If it stings for you, too, let it sting like that of conviction, not condemnation. While it might be true, in the name of Jesus, it is not truth (there’s a difference). Because in this, I have hope. I currently know thirty-seven eighteen year olds who are WOKE (did I use that right, Gen Z?) for the Good News. I currently know thirty-seven eighteen year olds who, in the words of Avery T. Willis Jr., “will not give up, shut up, or let up, until they have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, and preached up for the cause of Christ.”
I think of my mom after her second early morning CrossFit class. She said, “I may have been the weakest one there, but at least I went.” These eighteen year olds might not have their Doctorate in Theology. They might not be headed straight toward the Middle East, but at least they’re going. In other words, at least they aren’t shut up. And yet one of the main reasons why those who have been called to missions choose to forgo a missional life is because of finances. The missions’ organization ABWE says, “The single greatest reason why missionaries return from the field – or have yet to get started – isn’t because of a disqualifying sin or health problem. Instead, it’s lack of funding.” In all honesty, I think this is heartbreaking times four. (1) Heartbreaking for the advancement of the Kingdom as a whole. (2) For the single soul that has yet to be awakened to the knowledge of Christ (…if the temporary severance of a friendship or relationship is painful on earth, I can’t imagine eternal severance from Christ…). (3) For the follower of Jesus who has been called into missions. (4) Heartbreaking for the follower of Jesus who consciously or subconsciously withholds good gifts.
Annnd I now more fully understand why a pastor usually has to spend a good four minutes defending his upcoming sermon about money/giving before he starts to preach. My heart is beating fast because yes, this is going where you think it’s going (kind of), but I hope you can stick with me. While I will refer to my ministry and the needs therein, I’ll also refer to the ministries of others, as the goal of this blog is not to reach full funding for myself (while I am praying toward that), but ultimately to advance the Kingdom of God through the resources He has given us to steward.
If you will, I’d love to share what I’ve learned over the past few years and recent months, but before I do that, I think it’s important to share where I’ve come from when it comes to money and giving. In short, I’ve been the one who has dabbled with the idea that raising support is counter-cultural, needy, and inconsiderate. In addition, I’ve been the one to dismiss someone’s intentional ask for financial partnership, thinking it an awkward and somewhat insensitive ask. And on the flip side, I’ve been the one to be dismissed after requesting financial partnership. I’ve also been the one to receive good, cheerful gifts for the sake of remaining involved in missions and ministry. I’ve been the one to donate $5/month to a missionary. I am one who currently partners with multiple people in ministry. While there are still many things I do not know, I do know that God has humbled me through stalling, receiving, and giving. And while this isn’t an all-encompassing list, here are a few things I’ve learned throughout:
All things belong to God. While at OneLife, we were given permission to swipe the OL card for a special meal every once in a while. Afterwards, we used to say, “Thanks, Peter!” Peter is the founder of OL. Purchasing a nice meal on OneLife’s dime was much easier than on our own dime. And honestly, the food was much more enjoyable. Why? Because the money used wasn’t ours, it was OneLife’s. And we therefore didn’t feel the loss like we would have had we used our own money. I think about Psalm 50 in that, “For every animal of the forest is mine [the Lord’s], and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird in the mountains, and the insects in the fields are mine.” There’s freedom that comes when realizing what we have isn’t ours to begin with, meaning that what we give away is ours to steward wisely, not to hoard internally.
We don’t need an abundance of resources to give. I think of Mark 12 when Jesus takes a moment to sit across from the temple treasury. He noticed the rich offering large amounts of money. He also noticed a widow, notably left with nothing after her husband’s death, who threw two small coins in the offering. Jesus said of the woman, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”
Giving is an opportunity to practice dependence on God – for both the receiver and the giver. The widow’s giving was an act of dependence and trust that God is who He says He is. Just like we can’t fully understand God as Comforter if we never need comfort, we also can’t know God as Provider if we never need His providence. I’ll speak for myself here, but I would rather $10/month of searching under the cushions for the last $0.37 than $200/month of penny change in partnership. The first creates space for dependence on God for both the receiver and the giver. The latter leaves little room, if any, for full dependence on God in their party.
Giving and receiving strengthens/deepens faith. A quote from one of my gap year participants as of recently, “A God story moment for my fundraising. I went and talked with a man from my church whose company wanted to support me. I went to his house for dinner. We talked and I explained what the trip is and what we’ll be doing. Towards the end of the conversation he said, ‘So what’s the gap, like in your fundraising?’ I told him roughly $3,000. And he said, ‘Okay, I’ll cover it.’ I was speechless. I’m fully funded!” Caedmon’s faith was strengthened, as was ours, through his testimony of God as Provider. This is just one out of many, many stories on my mind.
THIS GETS ME EXCITED. Excited to reverse the four heartbreaking thoughts above in that through the resources God has given us to steward, we can (1) Advance the Kingdom of God as a whole. (2) Awaken the single soul to the knowledge of Christ. (3) Strengthen the faith of the receiver toward God as Provider. (4) Strengthen the faith of the giver toward God as Provider. (*I also acknowledge that there are many ways to advance the Kingdom of God, I’m just focusing on this one for now.)
In that, I wanted to reference a couple missionaries and ministries that could use funding in order to continue in ministry (including me!). If you feel led to support one of these people in partnership, let me know and I can send you more information/get you in contact with the right people. For all of these, it’s not a question of “if” God will provide, but rather “when” God will provide.
- I’m currently praying for monthly partnerships to continue in my role as a Gap Year Squad Mentor at Adventures in Missions. I’d love to give more information on an individual basis!
- Isabel Salazar is still raising funds to be on Field Leadership with my Gappers. She’s incredible.
- My dad, Jamie Overholser, currently serves within an organization called Standing Stone Ministries. Their tag line is, “Shepherds shepherding shepherds.” His heart is to come alongside church leaders/ministry workers who need someone to lean on in the thick of working in ministry. The podcast I was listening to last night said, “The load pastors have to carry is almost inhuman.”
- And lastly, Erika Selby. Erika lives in Texas and works with an organization called For the Nations. She’s a preschool teacher whose students are refugees from Myanmar and elsewhere. It’s likely she’ll be working with Afghan refugees soon.
It’s important to feel a special connection to the person and or ministry when choosing into partnership! If you’re not already giving in some capacity according to your means (and even if you already are), I thank you in advance for your consideration and prayer in potential partnership with myself and/or one of these other lovely people/organizations.
“To Him who is able to do exceedingly and abundantly more than we could ever ask or imagine.”
Thank you and Amen (let it be so).
Thanks for a great article, Kirsten. It comes from your heart. Thank you for being courageous enough to put it out there!
Thanks for reading and keeping in touch, Craig! It means a lot to me. I’m hoping and praying that all things are most well in Spain!
Wha! Thanks, Kati!
Kirsten, I know this comes directly from your heart! Investing in the Kingdom by giving to the ones who have chosen to serve God in fulltime missions is always “storing up treasure in heaven.” Thank you for being willing to walk this path for the God you serve. I love you so.
Thanks, Ma! Love you.
This is incredible! You have such a way with words and have challenged us all to steward well what the Lord has entrusted to us. Thank you for this sweet and refreshing perspective!
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